Leaders: Wynne Benti, Joe Young
Six hikers met at Denny's of Sylmar for the traditional pre-hike breakfast at 6:00 am, and these six joined five others at 7:00 at the Sylmar meeting place for the caravan to the road head along Mil Potrero Rd. We picked up two more hikers in Frazier Park, so our total for the day was thirteen hikers. Weather this day was beautiful, with sunny skies until mid-afternoon when clouds rolled in. The wind was calm, and temperatures moderately cool. The area was beautifully clad in a heavy blanket of snow after the much needed storms of March.
We had originally planned to climb San Rafael Mtn this day. However, the heavy snows forced the Forest Service to lock off most dirt roads in the Los Padres mountains and this included the road to Mutau Flat, Thorn Pt, et al which was locked at the Lockwood Valley Rd. Therefore we substituted San Emigdio and Brush. Roads to these peaks were also locked off, but we were able to design a loop trip whereby the peaks would be bagged via hiking the mostly snow-covered roads and ridges. We feel that this legitimately constitutes a pathfinder route for each peak.
After arriving at the road head at the beginning of FS9N34 (as shown on our HPS maps, FS9N52 on the Forest Service map), Wynne and I drove our vehicles to the end of the hike, at FS9N27, the road to Marian Campground. The hike began at about 9:15, and we encountered snow shortly thereafter. We trudged along FS9N34, then thrashed through snow along a ridge almost to the summit of San Emigdio, took the road to a point just east of the summit, and last plowed up the slope to the summit, searching in vain for a register can. The snow was 2-3 feet deep on the summit, on the ridge, and in many places on the road.
After a short time on San Emigdio we followed FS9N34 west to its intersection with an unmarked dirt road that led to Marian Campground, where we found a dry spot on the hill overlooking the campground. Here we lunched, with the noon hour close at hand. Many of us tried drying our boots and socks here, with very limited success. We celebrated the first HPS peak and outing for newcomer Eija Suomalainen, from Finland.
After lunch we dropped down into the campground, then headed up the steep dirt road from the west side of the campground towards Brush. We hiked over the two false summits en route to Brush, avoiding snow where possible. Its summit was relatively clear of snow, and we stayed on its dry summit a short time.
We headed back toward Marian Campground, avoiding reclimbing the false summits, although there is no way to avoid all gain on return. Rather than descending directly to the campground we took a cross-country shortcut down a ridge, fun slope and gully to FS9N27. We hiked FS9N27 to the Mil Potrero Road and found the leaders' vehicles. A few chose to hike the mile back to the remaining cars parked at FS9N34. We were back at 4:30. The dry socks and shoes felt great!
Eleven of us reconvened at a new restaurant, the Okie Girl Brewery in Lebec, which is just west of the Freeway at the Frazier Park offramp. They specialize in barbecue style entrees. But this a true micro brewery, and they brew five types of beers, ale and a stout. The beer drinkers approved of the beer, and all eleven of us expressed approval of the dinners. They sell beer in large bottles for taking out.
After dinner we returned to Sylmar and then home. This had been a fun day, full of hiking, peak bagging and camaraderie. And we discovered a new place to celebrate after hiking in the eastern Los Padres mountains.
Thanks to Wynne for her able assistant leadership.